RE: Measuring(quantifying) morality?

From: Christopher Healey (
Date: Tue Aug 15 2006 - 09:12:31 MDT

> on 8/15 Philip Goetz wrote:
> ... and if you count greatest good to the greatest number, then
> the moral value of an action depends more on its impact hundreds
> of years in the future than its impact at present.

This can be true, but don't forget to discount the impact based on the uncertainty of that future.

Others may speak to this better, but generally, the more certain the future outcome, the more moral weight your actions affecting that future hold. Since we have limited predicitive capabilities, we end up balancing the moral utilities between more-certain but less-optimal outcomes and less-certain but more-optimal outcomes. In other words, yes, the moral value of your actions can be much greater in the future than at present, but (and I know this is awkwardly phrased) the uncertainty of that future should attenuate the backflow of value to the present such that its actual contribution to one's moral decisions is dramatically (and appropriately) reduced. After this is done, its moral value may still be greater than other present concerns, and one would choose specific actions accordingly. Does this make sense?

Tieing this back to what you were saying, even with wild value fluctuations, the final value would be bounded by the some chosen discount function. As the uncertainty -> 1, the remaining explosive portion of that (unbounded) integral would be in effect be getting zeroed/pruned, right?


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